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bikkuri bahn

Twilight Express to be discontinued next year

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bikkuri bahn

It was announced Wednesday that the Osaka-Sapporo sleeper train Twilight Express service will end in spring 2015.  The primary (public) reason given for discontinuance was aging rolling stock.  With the axing of this service, all overnight sleeper trains beginning or ending at Osaka Station will disappear.

 

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20140528/k10014779141000.html

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Densha

But we all know that the secondary (?) reason is of course the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen and that they don't want to bother with cape gauge trains through the Seikan Tunnel that don't seem to have such a high occupancy rate either.

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kvp

The whole twilight express route takes about 23 hours. The Osaka - Hakodate route will take about 6.5 hours with a change of trains in Tokyo and the Hakodate - Sapporo route will be another 3.5 hours. This is 10 hours, less than half of the current time and it will be less if they finish the shinkansen route to Sapporo and/or increase the speed limit in the Seikan tunnel. It's less convenient, because it involves 2 train changes, but it will probably cost slightly less and shinkansen service is more frequent than a single daily train. Not to mention the capacity of the shinkansen routes is around 20 times higher than the capacity of the sleeper train. The operating costs of this train service would be probably much higher than the expected income, especially that for these distances the price of air travel is comparable and for really low cost travel, the bus companies have already pushed the JR companies out of busniess. (this probably has something to do with the discontinuation of normal long distance passanger trains)

 

ps: I would like to see a shinkansen through service that connects Osaka and Hakodate directly. This would only need a single rail connection at Tokyo station and a common effort between the JR companies. If it's done with a sleeper service, we could call it a sleeper shinkansen. It could depart from Osaka in the evening and arrive at Shin Hakodate in the morning. For rolling stock, a pair of surplus double decker e4-s could be easily and cheaply modified into a sleeper train. Of course there is little financial incentive to do this.

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Densha

That's not possible by simply rebuilding E4's. Shinkansen south from Tokyo and those north from Tokyo have a different frequency on the overhead wires thus require trains supporting these two frequencies. So JR East Shinkansen cannot run on JR Central/West/Kyushu Shinkansen tracks and its the same the other way round.

Edited by Densha

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200系

I can't say I'm too supprised, both the 24系 passenger cars and the EF81 locomotives JR West is using, are getting up there in years  (the EF81形 JR West uses are from the batch built between 1972 and 1977, while the 24系 cars where built between 1973 and 1980) so I wouldn't be supprised if aging stock wasn't a contributing factor, together with the Hokaidō Shinkansen.

 

A shame though to see another locomotive hauled train dissapear, and a shame to see more EF81形 go.

 

 

Shinkansen south from Tokyo and those north from Tokyo have a different frequency on the overhead wires thus require trains supporting these two frequencies. So JR East Shinkansen cannot run on JR Central/West/Kyushu Shinkansen tracks and its the same the other way round.

 

You are both correct and incorrect at the same time. While it is true that (most of) the (North)Eastern Shinkansen lines are powered using 25Kv 50Hz versus 25Kv 60Hz used on the Western Shinkansen lines, but JR East of course has the Nagano/Hokuriku Shinkansen which uses 25Kv 60Hz after leaving the Jōetsu Shinkansen. JR East also has/had quite a few Shinkansen formations capable of opperating under both 50 and 60Hz:

 

- 200系 Formation F80 (formerly F17) was moddified for use on the Nagano Shinkansen in order to provide extra cappacity for the 1998 winter olympics.

- E2系0番台 N formations (built specifically for the Nagano Shinkansen)

- E2系0番台 J1~J15 formations (the 1000番台, J51 and up can be used on 25Kv 50Hz only)

- E4系 Formations P81 and P82, the last E4系 formations delivered, where built with 50/60Hz cappability as well.

- E7系/W7系 obviously for the same reasson as the E2系 N formations.

 

So while the different frequency is a factor , it is mainly down to the fact that both systems are isolated from eachother (Japan essentially has two sepperate Shinkansen systems) that there are no through services on both systems. And while the different frequency, ATC systems and opperational requirements play their role, it's essentially the lack of a fysical connection that makes through services impossible.

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katoftw
Keikyu

I really wanted to ride on this someday. I'm rather sad at this news.

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Guest ___

This doesn't come as a suprise and I think most of us have seen the writing on the wall here for years (I'm sure there's been a few threads on the topic before). While, I'm sure the Hokkaido Shinkansen service plays in to this decision, the blue trains had been losing money for years now with declining ridership, and high cost of service, when the route really needs the shinkansens to compete against JAL, ANA and more specificially Jetstar who has some pretty barebone fares on long-haul domestic flights. One can taken an entire family from Osaka to Sapporo for what one person on a blue train can go for, at a fraction of the time.

Edited by Shashinka

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westfalen

The days of sleeping car services all over the world are numbered, killed by cheap airlines, our own Sunlander is making its last run on New Years Eve.  I think revenue is the main factor, one to two dozen passengers per car compared to how many you can squeeze into a Shinkansen.  Japanese railways are not, after all, scared of building new rolling stock.

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NuclearErick

After the Twilight, the Sunrise Seto & Izumo will be the last slepper service in Japan ??

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miyakoji

After the Twilight, the Sunrise Seto & Izumo will be the last slepper service in Japan ??

On Honshu, yes.  JR East will discontinue the Cassiopeia eventually, so that will leave only the Seven Stars in Kyushu service.  I wonder how that's doing financially.  I assume the Moonlight services (Nagara, Echigo, Shinshu) will continue, but those use express rolling stock with regular seating, no beds, and I think they're seasonal services.

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westfalen

The Sunrise Izumo and Sunrise Seto will be the last sleeper trains targeting regular travellers rather than expensive tourist trains. The Seven Stars is not the sort of train a traveller wanting to just go overnight from point A to point B would use.

 

The 285 series Sunrise Express sets are 16 years old now so if JR want to use the 'cars are getting old' excuse the clock will start ticking on them sometime too.

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Azumanga Davo



I've summed it up the best way...

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kvp

The 285 series Sunrise Express sets are 16 years old now so if JR want to use the 'cars are getting old' excuse the clock will start ticking on them sometime too.

 

Since their destination doesn't have any shinkansen connections or plans to build one and most of their sleeping space (the tatami cars) are geared towards students and school trips, they might survive for some time, but considering their home depot in Tokyo (Shinagawa yard) will be demolished to make a new business-residential area, they are also in danger.

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Mudkip Orange

WTF NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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JR 500系

According to the videos on Train Cruise and Fuji TV recently, the Sunrise is still highly sought after for their overnight service, so people arrive at their location in the morning. The trip sounds fun to them too as many would like to experience sleeping overnight on the train, and waking up to an astonishing view of the raising sun. Sunrise Izumo is also cheaper as compared to Cassiopeia or Twilight, but there's no personal bathroom attached. The bunk sleeper car is especially popular with groups especially students as they can have fun chatting and playing with each other, and it's rather cheap at about 11,000yen per person, and you'll arrive at Izumo or Shikoku in the morning.  

 

I reckon the Sunrise will stay for a while, while the Cassiopeia will cater for a higher class overnight sleeper. Also, there's plently of luxury trains coming up like the Seven Stars for those with deep pockets...

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Sacto1985

The Sunrise Seto/Sunrise Izumo trains won't be going away anytime soon because of one reason: there are no Shinkansen services to the Izumo/Matsue area or the Takamatsu area. Besides, the price of day trains from Tokyo to Izumo/Matsue and Takamatsu aren't cheap: it's pretty expensive to ride the Hikari Shinkansen train from Tokyo to Okayama, then take the Yakumo limited express to Izumo/Matsue or the Marine Liner limited express to Takamatsu.

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Keikyu

I reckon the Sunrise will stay for a while, while the Cassiopeia will cater for a higher class overnight sleeper. Also, there's plently of luxury trains coming up like the Seven Stars for those with deep pockets...

 

Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought I heard a while ago that the Cassiopeia was also likely to get axed?

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bikkuri bahn

Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought I heard a while ago that the Cassiopeia was also likely to get axed?

It's uncertain at this moment.  JR East is being noncommittal about the train.  The new EH800 20/25kv locomotives are capable of hauling the trainsets through the Seikan Tunnel, so that's not an issue.  It's likely more political- I suspect, if the Cassiopeia is not making a profit (or at least breaking even) for JR East, they would like to kill it, but Sapporo (and the Hokkaido govt.) would likely not sit idle if this were to be proposed.  If the service is ended, Sapporo will lose its only direct, one seat rail service (and psychological link) to Tokyo, and I seriously doubt people will tolerate the 30 year wait for the shinkansen to come to Sapporo as compensation.

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JR 500系

It's uncertain at this moment.  JR East is being noncommittal about the train.  The new EH800 20/25kv locomotives are capable of hauling the trainsets through the Seikan Tunnel, so that's not an issue.  It's likely more political- I suspect, if the Cassiopeia is not making a profit (or at least breaking even) for JR East, they would like to kill it, but Sapporo (and the Hokkaido govt.) would likely not sit idle if this were to be proposed.  If the service is ended, Sapporo will lose its only direct, one seat rail service (and psychological link) to Tokyo, and I seriously doubt people will tolerate the 30 year wait for the shinkansen to come to Sapporo as compensation.

 

Plus, it is stunningly beautiful...

 

http://www.jreast.co.jp/cassiopeia/

 

Very classy... And expensive...

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bikkuri bahn
the price of day trains from Tokyo to Izumo/Matsue and Takamatsu aren't cheap:

 

It's 19000 yen Tokyo to Izumoshi on a daytime shinkansen+ltd. express itinerary  (a 6.5 hour journey- not bad actually).  Sunrise Izumo will set you back about 28000 yen including the cheapest room berth.  Albeit you do get the convenience of a morning arrival at your destination. 

 

*if you're really hard up for cash, you can do Izumoshi-Shinjuku for 9570 yen on a Willer Express overnight bus (3 abreast seating).

Edited by bikkuri bahn

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miyakoji

*if you're really hard up for cash, you can do Izumoshi-Shinjuku for 9570 yen on a Willer Express overnight bus (3 abreast seating).

Sounds heinous, and the poor driver has to do it all the time. :(

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bikkuri bahn

Yes, I hate taking overnight buses, they are truly the option of last resort.  I think Willer is one of the better operators though, like the big railway companies that run highway buses- however I wouldn't trust my life to one those little bus companies that operate out of some back lot in a remote corner of Chiba (or the like).

Edited by bikkuri bahn

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Densha

Wheee, I have an almost disastrous story about a substitute bus I had to take a few weeks back because of maintenance works on the tracks here in the Netherlands. The railways had hired a very bad bus company: we literally hit traffic lights and such....

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